California Attorney General Xavier Becerra paid a visit to Fresno this week to promote funding dedicated toward combating illegal tobacco sales.
Becerra appeared alongside County Sheriff Margaret Mims at a press conference on Tuesday to announce a $326,000 grant to reduce tobacco use and vaping among minors. “Here in California, one in eight high school students are using tobacco products, and of those, about 84 percent are vaping,” he said. “Preventing these illegal sales will pave the way toward a healthier California.”
Mims said the grant is being used for what she calls “shoulder-tap operations,” in which her office sends a minor into a store to test if tobacco sellers ask for identification, as well as community education and outreach. “These include wellness fairs, we’ve been to Grizzlies Stadium,” she said. “We’ve been to Reedley College, the Fresno Fair, the Caruthers Fair, Boys and Girls Clubs.”
The grant, which the attorney general awarded to the sheriff’s office in 2018, draws from a tobacco tax passed by voters in 2016. Of the $38 million his office distributed throughout the state, nearly $4 million was disbursed to entities in the San Joaquin Valley, including police departments, schools and health agencies in Fresno, Tulare, Merced and Kern Counties.